Siem Reap -> Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai
The travel from Siem Reap to Bangkok was looong! I was told that the bus trip will last 8 hours. I thought its ok, because the price was just 10$. The bus left early in the morning and the kitchen was still closed so there was no chance for breakfast. The trip didn't start good, an empty stomach is never good! It took me 4 hours to the boarder. The process on the Cambodian boarder was actually quite fast, but to get into Thailand took for ages! In total I was 2 hours at the boarder just waiting and waiting. The bus ride form the boarder to Bangkok itself was all right. It was a small VIP bus with aircon. Close to 6:30pm I arrived in Bangkok close to the Kao San Road. My next destination was Don Mueang airport and no taxi driver wanted to drive with the taxi meter... So I paid way too much! 600THB... At the airport I met Alex. We will travel together for my last 2 weeks. The flight was on time!!! My first flight in Asia which was actually on time! So we arrived in Chiang Mai at our hostel at 10pm. We took the Smile Guesthouse and paid 700THB per night. It was luxury! Aircon, private bathroom and a pool. So the first two nights in Thailand were pretty good. We checked out the city the next day. In the morning we went to a huge local market and were stunned by all the tangs, aromas and smells. Fresh fruits, meat and fish everywhere. The city itself is leaned back even though it is quite touristic. We got lucky, because every sunday is a big nightmarket and this one is special. You can't compare it to night markets I have been to before, because the boothes were each selling different souvenirs and not just the same.
But I must say, that the development in Asia and especially Thailand is quite fast. I have been here 4 years ago and so many things changed. Taxis and streets, facilities and hostels and the communication possibilities improved, but at the same time everything got more expensive. Still compared to Europe it is cheap, but in comparison to some years ago it got redicously expensive.
Today we went to Pai. Pai is a small town 3.5 hours north by minivan of Chiang Mai. Transportation costs vary from 150 to 160THB. We just checked in in the first hostel we saw to organize our next days. We already decided to change hostels tomorrow to get a nicer atmosphere. But so far I really like Pai. It was a good decision to come here and not to spend too much time in Chiang Mai. For the next days we are planning to rent a motorbike, do a cooking class and go to an elephant camp. So far I was too lazy to take pictures, I really have to take more, but taking pictures is tiering...It is my last country and I want to have some holiday :D Well stay tuned and I will upload some pictures in the future.
Pai is just lovely!
The river in front of our small hut.
Our plans changed the last days. We did not go to an elephant camp, because a lot of the elephants are not treated nicely. The use sticks on which nails are attached and we decided not to support that. So instead it turned out to be a whole day in the hammock The motorbiketour was nice, but the locals burn down forests so it is very foggy and smoky. The waterfalls we went to were dried out...But close to one waterfall I saw a little shop and decided to take a fruit shake there. I sat down and he brought me without asking bananas, peanuts, juice, wine, dried bananas, jam, potatoes etc. It was like Thai Tapas. He grew everything himself and the taste was increadible intensive.
All our nights end up in the Irie Bar. The barkeeper Nan is doing a really good job attracting customers. One of the last days she asked if we liked to have a BBQ at her bar and we happily agreed. We went to the market together and got: 1kg of pork, 1kg of chicken, 2 big Red Snappers (about 1kg), 1kg of squid and a whole lot of vegetables and the price in the end was just 800THB (close to 17 Euros). We were 7 people eating and we couldnt finish all of it.
Well the picures is not a good one, but a memory.
Yesterday we joined a cooking class. We cooked 4 hours and visited a local market to buy some ingredients.
Me and our cooking teacher at "Pai Cookery School".
Our first dish, i forgot the name though, but it was really good. Lucky me that I got all the recipes.
Today we go back to Chiang Mai and tomorrow we start the journey to Koh Tao.
Pai -> Chiang Mai -> Bangkok -> Chumphon -> Koh Tao
The last days were just traveling...We started our journey in Pai two days ago. We paid for the bus 150THB and it was without any complications to get to Chiang Mai. In the evening we met some people again who we met in Pai. We went out and hang out in the streets playing some drinking games. Well the night got short^^ Our flight to Bangkok was supposed to leave at 9:30am so we have already been at the airport at 7:30am. We discovered that the red jeepneys are cheaper taxis so the drive to the airport was just 50THB each.
The waiting began...The Thais burn down the forests for farming in northern Thailand. So the last days the sky was always covered with smoke. The weather conditions were so bad that our flight got delayed big time! After 5 hours of waiting we went to the Air Asia booking office and changed our plane without any problems. So we just had to wait another 10 minutes and got to Bangkok. From the airport itself we took a public bus for 30THB (the A1 bus) to the next subway. From there you can take several busses to the Kaoh San road (bus number 3, 44, 524, 504, etc). Some of the busses or subsidiced by the government and for free. The drive was about 45minutes. We went to our travel agency for going to Koh Tao. The prices online and in the actual travel agency are the same so better book in advanced, its just 1050THB. So we took the night bus to Chumphon and from there a Catamaran to Koh Tao. At 9am we arrived and were just happy. Next steps were finding a hostel and a diving school.
Accomodation is quite expensive when you are on low budget. Most homestays start at 450THB but most are even more expensive. But when you do fun diving you get discounts and even free accomodation when yu do a scuba diving license. We took a package of dives to get a discount of 200THB each dive and because of the diving our bungalow (with private bathroom!!) got down from 600THB to 300THB a night.
I am very excited for tomorrow for our first dives in Koh Tao. I will tell you about that hopefully tomorrow and maybe even with some pictures!
First of all a picture of yesterdays travel.
After the long bus ride before entering the catamaran during sunrise.
Today was our first day diving. The visibility was not very great For the first dive we had 10-15m and the second was just about 5m. But the second was special, because it was an artificial reef and we saw toilets a bridge and some equipment out of a gym. But I think the funniest thing was actually a little toy which was left behind by a diver. The little train Thomas.
I hope the next days will be better though, but still we have seen great things. Huge angel and trigger fish, big school of barracudas, soft corals which are shaped like a christmas tree and when you come closer they hide in the rocks. They are quite common but here they are in all rainbow colors! Purple, blue, yellow, orange, etc.Alex got his 44th dive today. In Germany we call numbers like that "Schnapszahl" (liquor number?!), so the beer was on him to celebrate that
Both of us before the second dive.
Tomorrow we go for the morning trip. The boat is going to leave at 7am...
What is better after an EXHAUSTING day ( :D ) than a beautiful sunset and some Thai food?
Chanels first dive
Very exciting for her! Her first dive was on Koh Tao, Thailand and the diving spot was White Rock. The visibility was quite good with 15m that day and the water temperature was all right (28 degrees celcius).
She got really lucky though, because she saw a turtle!!
Planning the dive and talking about the fish we saw with our divemaster Adrian.
Chanel is ready to dive!
Thailand changed a lot the last four years. It is still a nice country to go to and for beginning a trip in Asia it is perfect. It is Asia for beginners and the culture shock is not that big. I ended my trip here and for getting back to Europe after a longer time it is good as well. Compared to the other countries it is really expensive and your daily budget should be 20 Euros so you can actually enjoy it to the end. Plan some extra money and do your Open Water Diver or the Advanced Open Water Diver. I can really recommend Crystal Dive Resort at Koh Tao. The staff is cool and the flair is good, because they show the diving movies of the day and you can chill out with a Chang and chat with people. The food is not too spicy here or I am just used to really spicy food from Indonesia so I can't really tell anymore^^